Removing the former judicial robe he wore for nearly a decade, retired Sumner County General Sessions Judge Johnny Jones smiled as a portrait of himself that will hang in his former Gallatin courtroom was unveiled last week.
The painting, commissioned by the Sumner County Bar Association, was on display Friday following a program recognizing the former judge who retired in 2003.
“It’s a great honor,” Jones said. “I don’t know how to put it any other way.”
A graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Jones began practicing law in Gallatin in 1971. During his 23-year career he served as a part-time public defender and mentor to several local attorneys.
“He was the criminal lawyer in Sumner County and he tried cases not only here but all over the place,” attorney John Pellegrin said told those in attendance Friday. “He just had supreme confidence and was always in control. It was like he owned the courtroom. I was lucky to learn from him.”
In 1994, Jones was appointed as general sessions judge after then Judge Jane Wheatcraft moved to Sumner County Criminal Court. The Sumner County native remained on the bench until his retirement in 2003.
Jones, who is now 80, said that one of his proudest accomplishments as judge was being able to secure federal funding to establish a drug court in Sumner County.
“Over the years I’ve run into people who have gone through the drug court and they’ve thanked me, their families have thanked me and I’ve always appreciated that,” Jones said. “It’s one of the few things that you can do as a judge to help people and a lot of people need some help.”